I love children’s books, and perhaps spend too much money on them. When today’s New York Times featured an article about a controversial Newberry-winning book, I had to order it. The Higher Power of Lucky is about a 10 year old girl who’s mother passed away. The controversy appears on the first page when Lucky’s dog is bit by a rattlesnake in the scrotum. Librarians across the country have decided to ban the book based on the use of the word scrotum. The NY Times writes, “The inclusion of the word has shocked some school librarians, who have pledged to ban the book from elementary schools, and reopened the debate over what constitutes acceptable content in children’s books.” The author of The Higher Power of Lucky Susan Pantry, who is also a public librarian, comments on her use of the word scrotum,“The word is just so delicious. The sound of the word to Lucky is so evocative. It’s one of those words that’s so interesting because of the sound of the word.” I’m not sure I agree with the description of the word as “delicious”; however, I do not find it offensive (and I hope Eco Child’s Play readers don’t either). Personally, I think children should be taught the correct name for their body parts, including their genitals. We have never used cutesy names for our children’s genitals. In fact, vagina became a speech articulation lesson for my daughter who struggled with the difference between /b/ and /v/. She called it her “bagina”. Scrotum is not a word we have taught our children yet (but will as soon as our copy of The Higher Power of Lucky arrives). We’ll let our readers know what we think of this Newberry winner, once we’ve had a chance to read it to our children.
To read the full NY Times article, click here.
We teach our kids the proper words for body parts, too. I don’t use “gam” for leg or “kisser” for mouth, why would I use nicknames for more private body parts? They’re still just body parts. 😀 And scrotum is a word my kids use (though often forget and refer to it as “what’s this part called?”).
Would the librarians rather the author say the dog was bitten in the balls? I bet she would rather it not have been the area bitten. 🙁
Jennifer Lance says
It is funny you mention balls, as that was mentioned in a review of the book as one word children know for their body parts. I find scrotum less offensive than balls, as it is used less in slang. I love it when my friends says, “She’s got ovaries” to describe a strong woman!
My mom reminded me of a health teacher at our high school who use to have the children repeat the proper names for genitals over and over to make them comfortable with them. She said it was really funny to walk by and hear the kids chanting, “penis, penis, penis.”